Executed in 1955, Oiseaux et poissons illustrates the effect of the return of peace and pleasure in Picasso's life after the Second World War, heralded by a new pastoral and a pagan tone that characterised his work during this period. Reinventing his métier with the help of a medium dating from the dawn of time, Picasso single-handedly revived the formal repertoire of antique pottery and created a whole new field for his prodigious artistic talent. Revealing the influence of archaic Greek artforms as well as the art of Iberia, both of which the artist became familiar of during his frequent visits to the Louvre, Oiseaux et poissons adapts classical forms and motifs to create a thoroughly modern work of great imagination and wit. Executed in a very limited edition, Picasso defines the graphic shapes of birds and fish in relief lines, dividing the simple form of the vessel into sea and sky with the earthly colouration of an Attic vase. Picasso spent much of 1955 living on the Côte d'Azur with Jacqueline Roque in his recently purchased villa, La Californie, marking a positive period of change that instilled his work with a profound optimism. Picasso revelled in the sunny climate of the coast and the unbridled sensuality of the great outdoors and sketched numerous decorative studies of fish and birds during the spring and summer. Reinterpreting these playful images in a primitive ceramic form, Picasso's joyful representation of smiling creatures in Oiseaux et poissons creates a lasting celebration of the abundance of life, imbued with the ancient spirit of the Mediterranean.